What Grinds Our Gears: Professors who don’t update their syllabi

If a majority of the class is failing, you're probably doing something wrong

Copy and paste shouldn’t happen with syllabi. ILLUSTRATION: Shaheen Virk / The Peak

by Alesha Garcha, SFU Student

I am tired of professors at SFU thinking their tenure means they do not have to adjust their syllabus, especially when their course’s failure rate is incredibly high.

Students pay a premium dollar to learn, not to have an unreceptive professor. They should be keen to support us in achieving all learning outcomes. A failed class or a low mark could frighten students and deter us from studying subjects we are passionate about. Professors should work to improve their syllabi and adjust how concepts are learned to avoid this fear.

I am experiencing this firsthand, as I left a pesky breadth science requirement for my last semester. I am enrolled in a 100 level class that my friends had informed me was the least hellish option. But every time assignment grades are released, the mean is exceptionally low. I was told in previous semesters that this professor never made an effort to re-evaluate their syllabus, but I guess I got lucky because I was given a chance to blow off steam in a web survey. However, despite all this data, the professor assumed that because the mean had moved from 40% to 50%, everyone experienced a “learning curve” in the course. The professor also thought 10 extra minutes on an exam would fix a midterm average of 53% — hooray, a majority of us are now barely scraping by!

Dear SFU professors, re-evaluate your syllabi. Failing marks are not because the masses are unintelligent. It’s usually because you are doing something wrong.